Most Common Food Allergies, Symptoms, Foods & Alternatives

 TYPE 1:
  • Nuts
  • Fish and Shellfsh

  • Cow’s Milk
  • Gluten
  • Yeast
  • Egg
  • Garlic


  • Nut allergy is a serious and usually life-long allergy, affecting both children and adults. It is essential that individuals with nut allergies avoid even the slightest exposure to nuts to prevent life threatening reactions
  • Nuts and beans are part of the same food family, along with fruit pips; in essence, they’re all seeds. Coffee and chocolate are also members of this family
  • The most common individual allergens in this group are, in descending order: cashew nuts, soya beans, Brazil nuts, almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts
  • The most common IgE allergy-causing foods are peanuts and tree nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans and cashews). Approximately 1 in 200 South Africans, eating a western diet, are allergic to peanuts
  • Unlike allergies to foods like milk and eggs, children generally don’t outgrow allergies to peanuts and nuts
  • For this reason, it is recommended that parents refrain from giving their children peanut and nut products until after they are 3 years old


  • Runny nose
  • Itching in the mouth or throat
  • Strange metallic taste in the mouth
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Swelling of the throat or other parts of the body
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • A rash of hives (urticaria)
  • Flushed skin
  • Stomach cramps/nausea and vomiting
  • Increased heart rate
  • Sudden feeling of weakness
  • Collapse or fainting


  • Some baked goods such as cakes and biscuits
  • Muesli and other cereals
  • Pestos
  • Thai foods such as Phad Thai and other Thai dishes containing tofu
  • Chinese dishes such as Cashew Nut Chicken
  • All foods containing beans, such as chilli con carne, bean dips, some soups and stews
  • Soya beans and soya products such as soya milk and tofu
  • Chickpeas and foods such as hummus
  • Lentils and foods such as vegetarian burgers, vegetarian curries, some soups and stews


  • Shellfish allergies are allergies to two classes of foods: mollusks (which include clams, mussels, and oysters) and crustaceans (which include shrimp, lobster, and crabs). Although these two groups are fairly distant biological relatives, there is a high rate of allergic cross-reactivity between the two. So, many people who are allergic to any shellfish are advised to avoid all shellfish. Shrimp is considered to be the most allergenic
  • Fish allergies are similar to shellfish allergies in that they are more likely than many food allergies to start during adulthood and less likely than other allergies to be outgrown. While fish is easier than many other allergens to avoid, fish allergies are often quite severe
  • Pollock, salmon, cod, tuna, snapper and eel are among the fish that commonly trigger fish allergies


  • Skin reactions/rashes
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhoea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Asthma
  • Itching in the mouth or throat
  • Anaphylaxis


  • Fish and shellfish are generally easy to detect, although fish is sometimes “hidden” in foods such as:
    Caesar salad dressing
    Foods containing Worcestershire Sauce (which contains anchovies), such as some stews and casseroles
    Some foods containing gelatin such as puddings
    Thai and other Asian cuisines containing fish sauce such as Thai Green Curry


  • Cow’s milk has been proven to be the most common food allergy
  • It is packed full of hormones, designed specifically for a calf’s first few months of life
  • It is a relatively new addition to the human diet
  • Approximately 75 percent of the population stops producing lactase, the enzyme that is needed to break down the milk sugar lactose, once they’ve been weaned, which just goes to show that we are not designed to drink milk after early childhood


  • Cow’s milk is one of the top food allergens found in children and adults with:
    Poor sleep
    Heartburn and Indigestion
    Rheumatoid arthritis
    Chronic diarrhoea
    Chronic fatigue


  • Breads and sandwiches
  • Cereals such as Special K, Strawberry Clusters, Hi Energy Cereal
  • Salad dressings
  • Desserts such as cheese cake, crème brule and other custard puddings
  • Chocolate based puddings
  • Pastas such as lasagne, macaroni cheese and other dairy based pastas like alfredo
  • Yoghurt and products such as smoothies
  • Cheese based dips and spreads and all other foods containing cheese
  • Foods containing butter such as baked goods
  • Cream and dairy based soups
  • Some processed meats such as ham
  • Mashed potatoes and foods containing them


  • Goat’s and sheep’s milk are not possible alternatives to cow’s milk because they all contain casein, which means that the immune system is unlikely to differentiate between the different milks
  • Safe substitutes (unless allergies occur to these) are:
    Soya milk
    Rice Milk
    Almond Milk
    Coconut Milk

  • Gluten is the name for a family of protein found in wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt, kamut and triticale
  • The main type of gluten in wheat is called gliadin, which is followed by glutenin. The main type of gluten in rye is called hirudin, and in barley it is secalin, although both also contain gliadin. These proteins are all chemically similar, therefore if a person is sensitive to wheat, he or she may also react to barley and rye
  • Spelt, kamut and triticale are all hybrids of wheat
  • The type of gluten in oats, however, bears no resemblance to gliadin, therefore a person allergic to wheat may not react to oats
  • As many as one in three people may be allergic to gluten because our bodies simply haven’t learnt to cope with it in the relatively short time we have been consuming it
  • Coeliac Disease is a lifelong and serious condition, which is characterised by an allergic toxicity to gliadin
  • This disease is genetic, although as many as 1 in 250 can Suffer from this disease
  • The only known effective therapy for Coeliac Disease is the total, permanent, elimination of gluten from the diet


  • Sinusitis
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome 
  • Fatigue caused by malabsorption of nutrients 
  • Diarrhoea 
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal bloating 
  • Anaemia 
  • Depression 
  • Weight loss


    • Sandwiches and wraps
    • Most pastas
    • Most pizza bases
    • Baked goods such as biscuits, cakes and muffins, unless stated that they are gluten free
    • Pretzels
    • Curries as some curry powders contain gluten
    • Some soups
    • Some foods containing gravy (Gravy powders and stock cubes such as OXO cubes contain gluten)
    • Dishes containing white sauces made with flour
    • Sausages and other processed meats such as ham
    • Pies
    • Pancakes and waffles
    • Foods containing couscous, bulgar wheat, semolina
    • Some stuffings
    • Desserts such as apple crumble
    • Battered foods and crumbed foods such as fish fingers, goujons, nuggets, schnitzels
    • Some breakfast cereals and muesli
    • Barley drinks, malted drinks such as Horlicks and some drinking chocolate
    • Some condiments such as mustard, soy sauce, chutney
    • White pepper and other spices
    • Malt vinegar
    • Pickles
    • Salad dressings
    • Some blue cheeses
    • Some baked beans
    • Meat and fish pastes
    • Some pates
    • Some instant coffees
    • Some potato crisps
    • Cheap brands of chocolate


    • Corn
    • Rice
    • Quinoa
    • Amaranth
    • Millet
    • Buckwheat

    • Candida Albicans is a fungus that occurs naturally in the human body and performs needed digestive functions in conjunction with other bacteria in the colon
    • It is found in the mucous membranes such as the vagina, mouth, and rectum, and is also found on the skin
    • Candida Albicans does not generally cause issues, but those with a yeast allergy produce an overabundance of this fungus and it upsets the balance of bacteria and yeast in the digestive tract as well as all of the mucous membranes
    • This imbalance wreaks havoc on the body by upsetting digestion and causing athlete's foot and vaginal yeast infections
    • The excessive growth is triggered when allergy sufferers ingest foods with yeast or take antibiotics
    • The reason why yeast is a common food allergen is because we are exposed to it on a daily basis without even realising it

    • Wind
    • Headaches
    • Fatigue
    • Anxiety
    • Sinus infection
    • Rectal itching
    • Mental fogginess
    • Depression
    • Earaches
    • Thrush
    • Indigestion
    • Chronic pain


      • Sandwiches
      • Pizza bases
      • Foods containing soya sauce such as Chinese dishes (Vital makes a yeast-free soya sauce)
      • Foods containing stock cubes (the make Marigold is yeast and gluten free)
      • Breakfast cereals
      • Foods containing cheese, especially blue cheese
      • Yoghurt products with fruit
      • Tinned and packet soups
      • Foods containing peanuts and peanut butter
      • Foods containing mushrooms
      • Olives
      • Sausages
      • Foods containing vinegar and sugar


        • Eggs are a good source of protein and also contain other important nutrients such as phospholipids, which are vital for the brain
        • Reactions to egg white are much more common than to egg yolk, presumably because of the protein in egg white, ovomucoid
        • Egg allergies are more common in children, from 0 – 6 years of age, than in adults, possibly because eggs are very often introduced too early into children’s diets
        • Egg allergy sufferers should be aware of terms like albumin, egg substitutes, globulin, livetin, lecithin, lysozyme, ovalbumin, ovomucin and ovovitellin when reading food labels and avoid them

        • Eczema and Dermatitis (skin rashes and irritation)
        • Hives
        • Redness
        • Swelling
        • Wheezing
        • Nausea and vomiting
        • Stomach pain
        • Headaches
        • Runny nose and sneezing


          • Baked goods such as cakes, muffins and biscuits
          • Chocolate desserts and other puddings such as custards
          • Ice cream
          • Some pastas and noodles
          • Foods containing mayonnaise such as sandwiches
          • Sausages and other processed meats
          • Meatballs, as a binding agent
          • Some salad dressings like Caesar Salad Dressing
          • Pancakes and waffles
          • Some fish batters
          • Some pies, especially those brushed with egg white
          • Some soups 



            • Through out the world, the wonders of garlic are well known – it boosts the immune system and adds superb flavour to foods. For this reason, garlic is also one of the common food allergies
            • It is very hard to avoid garlic as it can be found in most meals
            • An allergic reaction to garlic can occur when garlic is consumed or the fumes are breathed in Some people who are allergic to garlic may also be allergic to onion


              • Skin irritation
              • Heartburn
              • Flatulence
              • Vomiting
              • Diarrhoea
              • Rhinitis (runny nose)


              • Thai Foods such as Chicken Thai Green Curry
              • Italian and other Mediterranean dishes such as Napolitana Sauce, spaghetti bolognaise, Greek lamb dishes
              • Indian and other Middle Eastern foods such as Chicken Tikka Masala, Lamb Rogan Josh
              • Hungarian Goulash
              • Casseroles such as lamb casserole as well as some soups and stews
              • Dips such as Hummus and pesto
              • Cottage pie

                         Asafoetida is a species of Ferula (flowering plant), native to Persia. When raw it has an unpleasant smell, but when cooked it smells like leeks or sautéed onion and garlic. It is a safe substitute for garlic and is also known to reduce flatulence